Patriots overcome injuries and wind to prove they are not Super Bowl material

Published: 10/11/2019 12:42:58 AM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With a gritty victory in swirling winds amid a slew of injuries to key personnel, the New England Patriots proved they are not Super Bowl material by defeating the New York Giants 35-14 on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
 
“Once again I’m really proud of our football team,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, as he sniffled his way through the postgame press conference, apparently suffering from a cold and delusional to the point of pride. “Offensively, those guys showed a lot of toughness out there today.”
 
Toughness would be a fantastic trait if that had ever helped a team win a Super Bowl. Sadly, no championship in league history has ever been won without elite offensive play and a large stockpile of weaponized humans who can win man to man battles and gain separation.
 
Clearly, the Patriots do not have this, producing a mere 21 offensive points against one of the league’s worst defenses. Sure, it was a short week and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged that some of his throws were affected by violent winds. But the litmus test for Super Bowl eligibility against a team as bad as the Giants is 50 points by the offense alone. The Patriots failed to get even halfway there.
 
For goodness sakes the Giants, who came in as 17-point underdogs — the biggest spread against New York in franchise history — were within four measly points of covering that spread.
 
It’s been said before, but if the Patriots run into a team that is better than them, they may well be in deep trouble. Their only hope for a Super Bowl this season will be if the entire rest of the NFL is worse than they are. Certainly, fans should be deeply concerned that the defense and special teams produced 14 points. The NFL has not yet declared whether such points would even count in the 2019 postseason.
 
With wide receiver Josh Gordon (a WR1 or WR2 depending on which fantasy football coach you ask), tight end Matt LaCosse and backup fullback Jakob Johnson all going down with injuries, the Patriots were only able to muster one offensive personnel grouping for much of the second half.
 
“We just grinded it out pretty good,” said Brady who threw for 341 yards while leaving an untold fortune of points on the field. “(We were) kind of forced into one grouping there in the second half. I don’t think that’s ever happened in 20 years.”
 
The injuries left Brady with two choices: Throw to undrafted rookie nobodies Kaleb G. Olzewski and Jakobi Meyers or throw to no one at all. The superannuated quarterback chose the bizarre risk of throwing to the untested rookies, and they combined for a mere six catches on seven targets for 88 yards (12.6 yards per attempt). Brady also completed passes to non-elite skill players Brandon Bolden, Sophomore Slumpback Sony Michel and tight end Ryan Izzo. The five nobodies referenced in this paragraph combined for a total of 12 catches on 16 targets (a 75 percent completion rate) for 168 yards. That’s 10.5 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 108.3 to those stiffs.
 
If that itself doesn’t demonstrate the need to trade the farm for Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and O.J. Howard, then by God what possibly could?
 
“They’re playing in games and contributing,” Brady said of fungible “skill” players whom he probably refers to scornfully as WR4s and WR5s. “That’s what we needed.”
 
In the end, Brady would not commit to being satisfied with the offensive performance, leading any reasonable person with a functioning brain to infer that he desperately wants the Patriots to sign Diggs, reacquire Antonio Brown and Benjamin Watson, and trade for an elite running back like Saquon Barkley. All he could do was sum up the nowhere this team has been and might get to.
 
“We’re 6-0 so we’ll try to get to 7-0.”
 
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.


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